ON SITE OR OFF SITE?
DO WE NEED TO RENT A CAR?
This is your first big decision! The time of year that you choose to visit Walt Disney World can make a big difference in the quality of your vacation.
The most crowded times at Walt Disney World happen to be when most children are out of school. This is not a coincidence! :-) You can expect wall to wall people and long lines during Easter, most of the summer (particularly fourth of July weekend), Thanksgiving, and Christmas through New Years Day. The rest of the year is more manageable as far as crowds are concerned. This favors the empty nesters and families with children below school age, since these less crowded times are also when you usually find the most discounts on resort rooms.
The weather is a major deciding factor also. The summers in Florida can be brutal, especially for those not accustomed to such high humidity. Winters are fairly mild, but there can be an occasional cold snap. Late fall and spring are wonderful times to visit the World.
The tradeoff for going to Walt Disney World
during off peak times to avoid crowds and long
lines is shorter park hours and the fact that
selected entertainments, such as some parades and firework shows, will not take place nightly.
Only you can decide what is most important to
On Site Or Off Site?
There are numerous reasons for choosing a Walt Disney World resort.
The major draw of staying at an off site hotel is lower prices. If you find yourself on a strict
budget, this may be your only option. There are
many low priced hotels close to Walt Disney World property. I have stayed both on site and off
site, and I can assure you that I had a wonderful vacation each and every time. Of course, I would rather stay on site, but if it came to a choice
of staying off site or not going at all, I choose off site. I'll take Walt Disney World any way I
can get it. :-)
There are five levels of resort accommodations at Walt Disney World:
Standard room rates at the Value Resorts are $77 to $126 per night.
Standard room rates at the Moderate Resorts are $133 to $209 per night.
The standard rooms at the Deluxe Resorts vary greatly in price. They range from $199 all the way up to $780 per night.
Home Away From Home Resorts
The standard rooms at the Home Away From Home Resorts vary greatly in price. They range from $229 all the way up to $1915 per night.
Campsites from $36 to $86 per night.
Do We Need to Rent a Car?
Walt Disney World has a fleet of buses and boats as well as the monorail system to transport you around the World. The transportation system is reliable and convenient between the resorts and the theme parks, but can be extremely time consuming if you are traveling from resort to resort.
The choice of whether to rent a car or to depend on Disney transportation is a very personal one. If you are the type who likes to get from point A to point B in the shortest possible time, you should definitely rent a car. On the other hand, if you are the laid-back type who doesn't want to drive or to fight traffic on your vacation, you will be very happy with Disney transportation.
The benefits of renting a car are much greater if you are staying at an off site hotel instead of a Disney resort. While many hotels provide transportation to area attractions, it is not always complimentary, and is not usually as efficient and as reliable as Disney transportation. In these circumstances, you will probably want to rent a car.
If you decide to rent a car, there are many options, either at the airport or a short shuttle ride away. You can check out rental cars on my Travel Planning page.
If your decision is to not rent a car, you will need to decide on your transportation from the airport to your hotel. The following are a few of your options:
Mears - Roundtrip transportation prices are $29 for adults and $21 for children. You can call 1-800-759-5219 for details or contact them online at http://www.mearstransportation.com The Mears booth is located outside of the baggage claim areas at the airport. You will be given the phone number to call and arrange your pickup time for your return trip to the airport. This must be done at least 24 hours in advance. Mears transportation makes stops at other hotels also, so make sure to have them pick you up in plenty of time for your flight.
Tiffany Towncar - Unlike Mears, the towncar services will carry only your party (up to five riders), so it is door to door service. Many people prefer this to stopping at several different hotels to take on or drop off other passengers. Call 1-888-838-2161 or (local) 407-370-2196 for prices and details.
Florida Towncar - The advantages of Florida Towncar are similar to Tiffany Towncar. Call 1-800-525-7246 or (local) 407-277-5466 for prices and details. You can also visit their web site at http://www. floridatowncar.com/ to find out more information.
Taxis - Taking a taxi to your resort can be very expensive, up to $40 each way. This may sway your decision to one of the other options open to you.
You will not find as many discounts at Walt Disney World as you might find at other resort destinations and the ones that you do find will seldom be deep discounts. The most common are AAA and Annual Passholder (AP) discounts. There are frequent AAA and AP discounts on resort rooms, but you will have to ask for them when you call the Central Reservations Office. The best place to find out about the latest discounts is the rec.arts.disney .parks newsgroup. Whenever someone finds a great discount, you can be sure it will be posted there. Another wonderful source of current discounts is Mousesavers.com
Besides the discounts on resort rooms, there are also discounts on selected restaurants and shopping.
Magic Kingdom Club - The Magic Kingdom Club became the Disney Club and was eventually discontinued completely.
Annual Passholder - Anyone who has purchased an Annual Passport or Premium Annual Passport is entitled to these current Passholder discounts:
Concourse Steakhouse at Contemporary Resort
ESPN Club at Boardwalk
Grand Floridian Cafe at Grand Floridian Resort
Kona Cafe at Polynesian Resort
Olivia's Cafe at Old Key West Resort
Sand Trap Bar and Grill at Bonnet Creek Golf Club
Trail's End Buffeteria at Fort Wilderness Resort
Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge Resort
Yacht Club Galley at Yacht Club Resort
Alfredo di Roma Ristorante at Epcot
Biergarten Restaurant at Epcot
The Garden Grill Restaurant at Epcot
Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot
Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot
Le Chefs de France Restaurant at Epcot
Mitsukoshi Teppanyaki Restaurant at Epcot
Nine Dragons Restaurant at Epcot
Restaurant Akershus at Epcot
Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot
Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room at Epcot
San Angel Inn Restaurant at Epcot
American Express - The American Express White Glove program has been cancelled.
AAA - Awaiting latest info on AAA discounts. Check back soon.
All ticket prices listed here include 6.5% tax. Child ticket pricing applies to ages 3-9. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.
Ultimate Park Hopper Pass - This pass is available only to guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort and is good from the moment you check in until the end of the day you check out.
Annual Passport - The Annual Pass is valid for 365 days from the first day of use and includes:
Premium Annual Passport - The Premium Annual Pass is valid for 365 days from the first day of use and includes:
Park Hopper PLUS Pass - The Park Hopper PLUS Pass is the basic Park Hopper with a few added options.
5-Day (2 options)
ADULT - $300.34
CHILD - $240.70
6-Day (3 options)
ADULT - $332.30
CHILD - $266.26
7-Day (4 options)
ADULT - $364.24
CHILD - $291.81
Park Hopper Pass
ADULT - $233.24
CHILD - $187.44
ADULT - $265.19
CHILD - $213.00
ADULT - $58.31
CHILD - $46.60
Specially priced Walt Disney World tickets for U.S. military service personnel and DOD onbase personnel are available only at participating MWR Ticket Offices throughout the United States.
NOTE: Military/U.S. Government ID required for purchase. Passes are not transferable.
ADULT - $33.02
CHILD - $26.63
1-Day/1-Park-Only Water Park Tickets
Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon:
ADULT - $33.02
CHILD - $26.63
No matter what your taste is in food, there is a
restaurant somewhere in Walt Disney World that
will satisfy it. Just about every type of
cuisine is represented, all the way from fast
food to gourmet. Not only are there many
restaurants to choose from in the theme parks,
you will also find fine dining experiences in the resorts. Each deluxe resort has at least two
full service restaurants, the moderates have one
full service establishment as well as a food
court, and the value resorts each have a food
court. To help you decide which restaurants your
family will not want to miss, be sure to check
out Deb Wills' list of menus. If you aren't hungry now, you will be!
You can rely on the Disney transportation system to get you anywhere you want to go within Walt Disney World. Some destinations will take you longer than others, but if you are in a laid-back, vacation frame of mind, you will enjoy your experiences.
Monorail - The monorail system provides service to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot as well as the deluxe resorts situated around the Seven Seas Lagoon, The Polynesian, The Grand Floridian and the Contemporary.
Buses - The buses provide service to all areas of Walt Disney World and are very efficient. The only drawback is traveling from resort to resort. This can require a good deal of time and you will need to change buses, but you will eventually get to where you want to go.
Boats - Disney's fleet of boats provide service between the Magic Kingdom and the Wilderness Lodge, the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, Fort Wilderness Campground and River Country. A system of watercraft also services Epcot, the BoardWalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Swan and Dolphin, and the Disney-MGM Studios. Downtown Disney is connected by boat service with both Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter.
The two main areas of Walt Disney World that center around nightlife are Downtown Disney and BoardWalk. Both areas swing until late into the night with music, dancing, food and people.
Downtown Disney - Downtown Disney is comprised of three distinct areas, each offering it's own atmosphere and entertainment.